Meet our Brazilian Warrior Workout instructor, Jessica or Pavão, a first generation Brazilian-American who fell deeply in love with Capoeira. As a result, she is the lead teacher at Capoeira Brasil Los Angeles and often travels to teach and perform her craft.
What do you love about dance?
I love the creativity and self-expression; the connection to music and the transcendent aspect of dance. It takes me somewhere else and I feel profoundly free. Oh, and it’s an awesome workout.
What age did you start dancing?
I started dancing on my own at about 7 years old and I was pretty convinced that I was going to be a superstar and would put on shows for family and friends, it was pretty hilarious. I didn’t formally start dancing until I was about 10 or 11.
Favorite part about dance
Letting go, feeling empowered and free!
Tell us about the Brazilian Dance, Maculelê
Maculelê is a traditional warrior stick dance that originated sometime in 17th or 18th century in the north of Brazil. Its roots are African, as are many other Brazilian dance and music traditions, but this unique style of dance as we know it today was developed in Brazil. It was practiced primarily during religious and cultural events and harvest celebrations. It is also linked to the Afro-Brazilian art form of Capoeira which fuses dance and martial arts and is often performed in Brazilian cultural shows. Maculelê is practice to the sound of an Atabaque, a traditional conga-like drum. Through its agile rhythmic movements Maculelê works arms, legs and core.
I start with a concept, a central theme then weave the choreography around it. I want to tell a story…
Have you had any challenging moments with dance that you can share? If so, how did you overcome that challenge?
Yes! There have been many moments in my dance life where I have felt inadequate, uncoordinated, like I should be better than I am, stronger, faster, more technical. This feeling came to my head about 7-8 years ago when I had a profound realization. With the help of my mentors and after soul searching, I realized that as a dancer, as an artist you cannot compare yourself to the person next to you. You must remember why you dance and why you love it, hold that dear and move forward. Work on what you aren’t good at and push yourself to the next level with what comes easy. And most importantly, each one of us has something special and unique to contribute to our dance form, to our art. We must recognize this and celebrate it.
…you cannot compare yourself to the person next to you. You must remember why you dance and why you love it, hold that dear and move forward.
Many young dancers worry about their body types. What are your thoughts on body types in the world of dance?
Enjoy your body, use your curves to accentuate the movement, especially in Brazilian dance. Celebrate your shape, it is uniquely yours and will help you transform movement into art, into a story you are telling with your body. If we all looked the same, we’d all tell the same story and that would be terribly boring!
What is your favorite thing to do on a “day off” from dance?
Lay out in the sun – it’s in my Brazilian DNA, work on my Maculelê and Capoeira music, read, and drink a glass (or 2) of Sauvignon Blanc!
What is your perfect pizza?
I love fresh garlic, ricotta, shaved parmesan, mushrooms, truffle oil, and arugula.
Pavão in action
Brazilian Warrior Workout
Stay tuned to learn the Brazilian Dance, Maculele from Jessica and her crew. We start shooting this series this weekend and we’re super stoked! Soon you’ll be able to take this Brazilian dance fitness workout in the comfort of your home.
Check out Capoeira Brasil Los Angeles
If you’re local to Los Angeles, we highly recommend checking out a class or two at CBLA. Pavão teaches an open level class on Mondays and Fridays. Your first class is free and they’re having an end of summer special that you can take advantage of right now.